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Pathway #14: Context

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Video: Louisa Heinrich’s #mexsession discusses the etiquette of robot UX

As digital machines gain greater autonomy, Louisa Heinrich (@customdeluxe | louisaheinrich.com) talks about our expectations of this coming generation of entities which will bridge the physical and digital worlds, blurring the definitions of ‘robot’, ‘drone’ and ‘appliance’. Louisa goes on to discuss how our interaction expectations are formed and how we might avoid the looming ‘domestic wars’, when contextually aware machines countermand each others’ instructions as they seek to fulfill thei…

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Digging digitally at the intersection of consumption and creativity

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Digging digitally at the intersection of consumption and creativity

It was a Sunday in May and, if we wanted the beans to the grow, it was time they were in the ground. So I found myself on the windswept allotment, under the big white clouds and blue of a Norfolk sky, digging over that patch of ground which had become overgrown with weeds and the bolted remnants of last year’s crops.

Digging is a strangely satisfying activity imbued with the same rhythmic quality as rowing or climbing hills on a bike. An area of this size might take a couple of hours lab…

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Funding for UX from Innovate UK

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Funding for UX from Innovate UK

There are several user experience-focused funding and development opportunities running in H1 2015 which will be of interest to the MEX community. Two are themed around the idea of ‘Better interactions between people and machines’, such as ways of sensing user intent and specific innovations which might improve overall digital user experience. Others include ‘Enhancing customer experience in rail travel’, ‘Enhancing user experience in retail’ and ‘Enhancing user experience using personal da…

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Designing for the intensity of the future

At the frontier of digital, the industry is poised to ask a new question of its users: how do you expect technology to behave when it no longer requires your direct control and is all around you?

There are many names ascribed to this transition – context-awareness, robotics, autonomy – but they all point to one importance difference. Instead of digital things being extensions of users’ own actions, understood as a discrete subset of the physic…

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User story: the Postmistress and her Lumia

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User story: the Postmistress and her Lumia

It speaks to the modest success of Windows Phone that to see one in the wild still feels rare.

I walked into the local Post Office the other day and, amid the clutter of parcels behind the counter, there it was: a Lumia 925 in grey. It belonged, I presume, to the Postmistress serving customers. She was the only member of staff in this small branch.

The phone was one of the models with the Lumia ‘Glance Screen’ feature, capable of displaying an ‘always on’ clock and notifications, but …

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Discussing Smart Design’s the ‘Internet of Why?’

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Discussing Smart Design’s the ‘Internet of Why?’

The internet of things, ubiquitous computing, wearables and context-awareness are just a few of the monikers being applied to the frontier where digital endeavour meets the physical world.

Smart Design coined another term at its October 2014 event in London: the ‘Internet of Why?’. It feels closer than most to accurately describing the way connectivity, data and computing could mediate users’ relationship with the world. Alas, the process of defining terminology apt for a specific moment…

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A predictably better user experience

Microsoft Research has suggested a method to overcome the latency which can hamper the user experience of network-hosted services, such as connected Xbox games. The DeLorean approach relies on predicting user behaviour so that servers can calculate several possible future outcomes concurrently. By combining these predicted outcomes with bandwidth compression, the server delivers multiple possible outcomes to the client in advance, thereby masking the latency incurred by network transport. T…

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Close yet digitally unseen

Google Now recently gained the ability to search your email for hotel reservations and automatically suggest restaurants near where you are staying. Microsoft’s Cortana has integrated with Foursquare to do something similar. Both hold the promise of greater convenience enabled by digital technology. Indeed, I’m sure it won’t be long before both are capable of learning you prefer Italian food while traveling, booking you a table, hailing you a taxi and pinging you as your ride arrives outsi…

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Failing to engage users through NFC, QR & SMS

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Failing to engage users through NFC, QR & SMS

What’s wrong in the photo above?

To provide some context, it is a scene I encountered on a train journey in the UK, where there was an advertisement positioned on the wall facing my seat, accompanied by an ‘action point’ with an NFC tag, QR code and instructions on how to send an SMS to a shortcode.

The action point invites users to ‘Engage With This Poster’, but I’d guess it has led to no ‘engagements’ whatsoever for a few simple reasons:

  • The NFC tag did not work
  • The …
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Trusting in the limited appeal of Google Glass

My name is Ivy Ross… I look forward to answering the seemingly simple, but truly audacious questions Glass poses: Can technology be something that frees us up and keeps us in the moment, rather than taking us out of it? Can it help us look up and out at the world around us, and the people who share it with us?

The newly appointed head of Google Glass is posing the right questions in her first statement. However, she faces a huge challenge – indeed, a potentially unwinnable challenge – t…

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